Eiji Aonuma explains why Breath of the Wild is ‘Open Air’ and aims to provide ‘surprises’ with the next Zelda 

Eiji Aonuma was interviewed in the June issue of 日経トレンディ (Nikkei Trendy) about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Aonuma explains that when The Legend of Zelda series became 3D; he wanted to make a game that could be played by all players – including those that hadn’t played a 3D game before. Whilst this led to a classic game in Ocarina of Time, this nonlinearity soon became formulaic, hence why Breath of the Wild became ‘Open Air’.

Aonuma also comments on why he believes Breath of the Wild is so fondly received in the west and that he hopes the sequel will continue to surprise and exceed everyone’s expectations. The magazine -which also has a Dragon Quest XI feature- has printed the full interview (in Japanese) and is available at newsstands now. Below are select translations… 

On The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild becoming ‘Open Air’… 

“When I first created a Zelda that’s played with 3D in Ocarina of Time, what we put our attention on is: To cope with how we were still not familiar with 3D yet, we show ‘routes’ so that you could progress forward without getting lost in even broad worlds. 

At that time, I thought that was the right thing. However, as we stacked on the series, ‘not getting lost’ would produce feelings of blockages like ‘cannot do anything but that’ or ‘cannot run away’, so more and more people felt dissatisfied with that. 

‘Open Air’ are words that really liberates us from those ‘feelings of blockages’. You can freely explore a vast world connected seamlessly, and you can progress to find out your own ‘answer’. So I think if there are 100 people ‘experiencing’ it, there will be 100 ways [to progress].”

On overseas reactions and thoughts of the series in the future… 

“First of all I think the point that ‘this is a Zelda’ is big. It’s a series that has been continuing for a long time, if I am to put it in words then perhaps everyone would have thought it’s not that simple to do a ‘reform’. 

Furthermore, that reform causes a ‘surprise’ to all our users who have played Zelda until now, since it exceeds their imaginations by a bit, and I think perhaps that’s why they, including the media, have welcomed it with the ‘zeal’. 

It’s not an easy thing to be able to answer expectations of all our users, but through this game, I recognised again that the significance of continuing to create the series is right there, so in the future I’d like to repeat doing “great fusses*” and provide ‘surprises’ that exceed everyone’s expectations.”

Many thanks to Kite for the translation. Please credit Japanese Nintendo if posting any of the above elsewhere. 

* Translator’s note: Originally Aonuma said すったもんだ. When this is checked in a web dictionary, it could mean the following: Confused (situation), Great fuss, Much wrangling. Yeah a very quirky phrase indeed, so I picked Great Fuss out of those meanings since it’s the closest to a noun.

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